Dictionary explains sociologist Max Weber's ideas

February 16, 2005

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Max Weber (1864-1920) was a German sociologist, economist and political scientist who is known not only as one of the world's most important social scientists because he founded the modern study of sociology and public administration, but also as one of the most difficult to understand.

To help the general reader (and frustrated or tired student or teacher) get a better grasp of the theories and works of Weber, Richard Swedberg, an economic sociologist, Weber scholar and professor of sociology at Cornell University, has published a book, The Max Weber Dictionary: Key Words and Central Concepts (Stanford University Press, 2005).

"Weber is so difficult to understand that I hope an aid in the form of a dictionary will be helpful," says Swedberg. "I wrote the book because I admire Weber's work, I wanted to aid others in studying Weber without the difficulty I myself had, and I also wanted to contribute to the culture around Weber's work."

Weber is known for emphasizing cultural and political influences on economic development and individual behavior, his ideas on bureaucracy and thesis of the Protestant ethic, his development of a methodology for social science and his work in the sociology of religion. Late in his career, he pulled together many of his ideas to create a totally new field of sociology, interpretive sociology.

The 344-page book, which includes more than 30 pages of references, consists of numerous entries in a dictionary format.

"The Weber dictionary will be an indispensable source of reference for social scientists," writes Sam Whimster, editor of the Journal for Max Weber Studies . "It will contribute to a much better grasp of Weber's extensive writings." Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

  • Richard Swedberg: http://www.soc.cornell.edu/faculty/swedberg.shtml


    Cornell University

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